Can a Publisher Have More Success with a Small List?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

In today’s saturated book market, is less more?

By Edward Nawotka

stack of six books

In today’s feature story Fernand Baracchini, publisher of Brazil’s Novo Conceito, says “I really don’t understand the current [publishing business] model that says that you have to publish 10 books to have one hit.” His company, which has only been publishing trade titles for four years, currently dominates the Brazilian bestseller lists with seven of the top twenty books. His formula for success: find a handful of light, bestselling American fiction titles, translate them, and sell them at affordable prices to a growing audience of eager female readers. His success belies the fact that the publisher puts out no more than three new titles per month.

The phenomenon of maintaining a streamlined list is not new. Perhaps the best known example in the United States is Hachette’s imprint “12,” which publishes just a single title per month. This allows the publisher to focus all their marketing energy, dollars and attention on the one book. And the results speak for themselves: 12 has published 43 titles in hardcover, 20 of which have been New York Times bestsellers — across a range of categories, from politics to memoir to fiction.

With the glut of books hitting the market, do you think a publisher can ultimately have more success with a small list?

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.